It looks like Cleveland is going into some kind of re-tool operation as their core hasn’t been able to get over the hump since reaching the World Series in 2016. Cleveland is shopping two of their top pitchers, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, and they’re also reportedly listening to offers on former Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion.
Chris Antonetti, director of baseball operations, touched on the different paths the Indians are considering taking to remain dominant in the AL Central and create payroll flexibility when he said, “We’re focused on the two goals: we want to make sure we have a team that’s capable of winning the American League Central in 2019 and then also better position our team for success beyond that. There are a variety of different ways that can happen with a variety of different impacts on our payroll. What those opportunities will be for us over the next coming weeks to execute on those goals, I don’t know for certain. But we’ll actively explore them.”
To me, this sounds like Cleveland is aware of just how bad the American League Central is and they’re trying to slash payroll while being still good enough to walk to another division banner. They have a whole bunch of free agents in the next few years, including the aforementioned Bauer, Kluber, and Encarnacion, and stars like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are going to be due for big raises.
It makes sense that Cleveland, a small-market, low-budget team (yes, this is because of ownership and not exclusively because of Mark Shapiro, despite what many here would tell you) would look to do a mini teardown and retool for later on rather than letting all of their impending free agents walk away for nothing.
As we know, Edwin ended up in Cleveland after a disastrous situation with Toronto. The Jays reportedly offered Edwin $80 million over four years, Edwin declined and wanted to weigh his options, the Jays quickly turned around and signed Kendrys Morales to a cheaper three-year deal, and Edwin ended up taking less money to sign in Cleveland because his market evaporated. While the dip from Edwin to Kendrys was a big one, Toronto did end up with a compensation pick that they used on Nate Pearson for him leaving in free agency.
Should the Jays be interested in bringing Edwin home?
Edwin is going to be 36 years old at the beginning of next season. He clubbed 32 bombs last year but posted an .810 OPS which was his worst since before his breakout season with the Jays in 2012. He’s signed for $21,667,000 in 2019 as his dead was backloaded, and he has a $20,000,000 team option for 2020 with a $5,000,000 buyout.
I wonder if something can be done involving him and Morales. Kendrys would give Cleveland a DH-platoon option who’s much cheaper than Edwin is for 2019 and it would eliminate the buyout for them in 2020. Cleveland needs bullpen help, so maybe they can throw in some arms to sweeten the deal. That way we can watch Edwin smack career-homer No. 400 in Toronto next year, which would be fucking awesome.
I mean, there isn’t much sense to a trade involving Toronto and Cleveland and Edwin and Kendrys other than sentimental value and the fact it would be hilarious if those two were traded for each other so one team could save money.